The three Worlds of our planet are at present the field of evolution for a number of different kingdoms of life, at various stages of development. Only four of these need concern us at present, viz.: the mineral, plant, animal, and human kingdoms.
These four kingdoms are related to the three Worlds in different ways, according to the progress these groups of evolving life have made in the school of experience. So far as form is concerned the dense bodies of all the kingdoms are composed of the same chemical substances-the solids, liquids, and gases of the Chemical Region. The dense body of a man is as truly a chemical compound as is the stone, although the latter is ensouled by mineral life only. But even when speaking from the purely physical standpoint, and laying aside all other considerations for the time being, there are several important differences when we compare the dense body of the human being with the mineral of the Earth. Man moves, grows, and propagates his species — the mineral, in its native state, does none of these things.
Comparing man with the forms of the plant kingdom, we find that both plant and man have a dense body, capable of growth and propagation. But Man has faculties not possessed by the plant. He feels, has the power of motion, and the faculty of perceiving things exterior to himself.
When we compare man with the animal we see that both have the faculties of feeling, motion, growth, propagation, and sense-perception. In addition, man has the faculty of speech, a superior structure of the brain, and also hands — which are a very great physical advantage. We may note especially the development of the thumb, which makes the hand much more valuable than even that of the anthropoid. Man has also evolved a definite language in which to express his feelings and thoughts, all of which places the dense body of the human being in a class by itself, beyond the three lower kingdoms.
To account for these differences in the four kingdoms we must go to the invisible Worlds, and seek the causes which give one kingdom that which is denied to another.
To function in any world, and express the qualities peculiar to it, we must first possess a vehicle made of its material. In order to function in the dense Physical World it is necessary to have a dense body, adapted to our environment. Otherwise we should be ghosts, as they are commonly called, and be invisible to most physical beings. So we must have a vital body before we can express life, grow, or externalize the other qualities peculiar to the Etheric Region.
To show feeling and emotion it is necessary to have a vehicle composed of the materials of the Desire World, and a mind formed of the substance of the Region of Concrete Thought is necessary to render thinking possible.
When we examine the four kingdoms in relation to the Etheric Region, we find that the mineral does not possess a separate vital body, and at once we see the reason why it cannot grow, propagate, or show sentient life.
As an hypothesis necessary to account for other known facts, material science holds that in the densest solid, as in the rarest and most attenuated gas, no two atoms touch each other; that there is an envelope of ether around each atom; that the atoms in the universe float in an ocean of ether.
The occult scientist knows this to be true of the Chemical Region and that the mineral does not possess a separate vital body of ether. And as it is the planetary ether alone which envelops the atoms of the mineral, that makes the difference described. It is necessary, as we have shown, to have a separate, vital body, desire body, etc., to express the qualities of a particular realm, because the atoms of the World of Desire, of the World of Thought and even of the Higher Worlds, interpenetrate the Mineral as well as the dense human body, and if the interpenetration of the planetary ether, which is the ether that envelops the atoms of the mineral, were enough to make it feel and propagate its interpenetration by the planetary World of Thought would also be sufficient to make it think. This it cannot do, because it lacks a separate vehicle. It is penetrated by the planetary ether only, and is therefore incapable of individual growth. Only the lowest of the four states of ether — the chemical — is active in the mineral. The chemical forces in minerals are due to that fact.
When we consider plant, animal, and man in relation to the Etheric Region we note that each has a separate, vital body, in addition to being penetrated by the planetary ether which forms the Etheric Region. There is a difference, however, between the vital bodies of the plants and the vital bodies of animal and man. In the vital body of the plant only the chemical and the Life Ethers are fully active. Hence the plant can grow by the action of the Chemical Ether and propagate its species through the activity of the Life Ether of the separate, vital body which it possesses. The light ether is present, but is partially latent or dormant and Reflecting Ether is lacking. Therefore it is evident that the faculties of sense-perception and memory, which are the qualities of these ethers, cannot be expressed by the plant kingdom.
Turning our attention to the vital body of the animal we find that in it the Chemical, Life and Light Ethers are dynamically active. Hence the animal has the faculties of assimilation and growth, caused by the activities of the Chemical Ether; and the faculty of propagation by means of the Life Ether — these being the same as in plants. But in addition, it has the faculties of generating internal heat and of sense-perception. The fourth ether, however, is inactive in the animal, hence it has no thought nor memory. That which appears as such will be shown later to be of a different nature.
When we analyze the human being, we find that in him all four ethers are dynamically active in the highly organized vital body. By means of the activities of the chemical he is able to assimilate food and to grow; the forces at work in the Life Ether enable him to propagate his species; the forces in the Light Ether supply the dense body with heat, work on the nervous system and muscles, thus opening the doors of communication with the outside world by way of the senses; and the Reflecting Ether enables the spirit to control its vehicle by means of thought. This ether also stores past experience as memory.
The vital body of plant, animal, and man, extends beyond the periphery of the dense body as the Etheric Region, which is the vital body of a planet, extends beyond its dense part, showing again the truth of the Hermetic axiom "As above, so below." The distance of this extension of the vital body of man is about an inch and a half. The part which is outside the dense body is very luminous and about the color of a new-blown peach-blossom. It is often seen by persons having very slight involuntary clairvoyance. The writer has found, when speaking with such persons, that they frequently are not aware they see anything unusual and do not know what they see.
The dense body is built into the matrix of this vital body during antenatal life, and with one exception, it is an exact copy, molecule for molecule, of the vital body. As the lines of force in freezing water are the avenues of formation for ice crystals, so the lines of force in the vital body determine the shape of the dense body. All through life the vital body is the builder and restorer of the dense form. Were it not for the etheric heart the dense heart would break quickly under the constant strain we put upon it. All the abuses to which we subject the dense body are counteracted, so far as lies in its power, by the vital body, which is continually fighting against the death of the dense body.
The exception mentioned above is that the vital body of a man is female or negative, while that of a woman is male or positive. In that fact we have the key to numerous puzzling problems of life. That woman gives way to her emotions is due to the polarity noted, for her positive, vital body generates an excess of blood and causes her to labor under an enormous internal pressure that would break the physical casement were not a safety-valve provided in the periodical flow, and another in the tears which relieve the pressure on special occasions — for tears are "white bleeding."
Man may have and has as strong emotions as woman, but he is usually able to suppress them without tears, because his negative vital body does not generate more blood than he can comfortably control.
Unlike the higher vehicles of humanity, the vital body (except under certain circumstances, to be explained when the subject of "Initiation" is dealt with) does not ordinarily leave the dense body until the death of the latter. Then the chemical forces of the dense body are no longer held in check by the evolving life. They proceed to restore the matter to its primordial condition by disintegration so that it may be available for the formation of other forms in the economy of nature. Disintegration is thus due to the activity of the planetary forces in the Chemical Ether.
In texture the vital body may be crudely compared to one of those picture frames made of hundreds of little pieces of wood which interlock and present innumerable points to the observer. These points enter into the hollow centers of the dense atoms, imbuing them with vital force that sets them vibrating at a higher rate than that of the mineral of the earth which is not thus accelerated and ensouled.
When a person is drowning, or falling from a height, or freezing, the vital body leaves the dense body, the atoms of which become temporarily inert in consequence, but at resuscitation it re-enters the dense body and the "points" are again inserted in the dense atoms. The inertia of the atoms causes them to resist the resumption of vibration and that is the cause of the intense prickly pain and the tingling sensation noted at such times, but not ordinarily, for the same reason that we become conscious of the starting or stopping of a clock, but are oblivious to its tick when it is running.
There are certain cases where the vital body partly leaves the dense body, such as when a hand "goes to sleep." Then the etheric hand of the vital body may be seen hanging below the dense arm like a glove and the points cause the peculiar pricking sensation felt when the etheric hand re-enters the dense hand. Sometimes in hypnosis the head of the vital body divides and hangs outside the dense head, one half over each shoulder, or lies around the neck like the collar of a sweater. The absence of prickly sensation at awakening in cases like this is because during the hypnosis part of the hypnotist's vital body had been substituted for that of the victim.
When anesthetics are used the vital body is partially driven out, along with the higher vehicles, and if the application is too strong and the life ether is driven out, death ensues. This same phenomenon may also be observed in the case of materializing mediums. In fact the difference between a materializing medium and an ordinary man or woman is just this: In the ordinary man or woman the vital body and the dense body are, at the present stage of evolution, quite firmly interlocked, while in the medium they are loosely connected. It has not always been so, and the time will come again when the vital body may normally leave the dense vehicle, but that is not normally accomplished at present. When a medium allows his or her vital body to be used by entities from the Desire World who wish to materialize, the vital body generally oozes from the left side—through the spleen, which is its particular "gate." Then the vital forces cannot flow into the body as they do normally, the medium becomes greatly exhausted, and some of them resort to stimulants to counteract the effects, in time becoming incurable drunkards.
The vital force from the sun, which surrounds us as a colorless fluid, is absorbed by the vital body through the etheric counterpart of the spleen,
wherein in undergoes a curious transformation of color. It becomes pale rose-hued and spreads along the nerves all over the dense body. It is to the nervous system what the force of electricity is to a telegraph system. Though there be wires, instruments, and telegraph operators all in order, if the electricity is lacking, no message can be sent. The Ego, the brain, and the nervous system may be in seemingly perfect order, but if the vital force be lacking to carry the message of the Ego through the nerves to the muscles, the dense body will remain inert. This is exactly what happens when part of the dense body becomes paralyzed. The vital body has become diseased and the vital force can no longer flow. In such cases, as in most sickness, the trouble is with the finer invisible vehicles. In conscious or unconscious recognition of this fact, the most successful physicians use suggestion — which works upon the higher vehicles — as aid to medicine. The more a physician can imbue his patient with faith and hope, the speedier disease will vanish and give place to perfect health.
During the health the vital body specializes a superabundance of vital force, which, after passing through a dense body, radiates in straight lines in every direction from the periphery thereof, as the radii of a circle do from the center; but during ill-health, when the vital body becomes attenuated, it is not able to draw to itself the same amount of force and in addition the dense body is feeding upon it. Then the lines of the vital fluid which pass out from the body are crumpled and bent, showing the lack of force behind them. In health the great force of these radiations carries with it germs and microbes which are inimical to the health of the dense body, but in sickness, when the vital force is weak, these emanations do not so readily eliminate disease germs. Therefore the danger of contracting disease is much greater when the vital forces are low than when one is in robust health.
In cases where parts of the dense body are amputated, only the planetary ether accompanies the separated part. The separate vital body and the dense body disintegrate synchronously after death. So with the etheric counterpart of the amputated limb. It will gradually disintegrate as the dense member decays, but in the meantime the fact that the man still possesses the etheric limb accounts for his assertion that he can feel his fingers or suffers pain in them. There is also a connection with a buried member, irrespective of distance. A case is on record where a man felt severe pain, as if a nail had been driven into the flesh of an amputated limb, and he persisted until the limb was exhumed, when it was found that a nail had been driven into it at the time it was boxed for burial. The nail was removed and the pain instantly stopped. It is also in accordance with these facts that people complain of pain in a limb for perhaps two or three years after the amputation. The pain will then cease. This is because the disease remains in the still undetached etheric limb, but as the amputated part disintegrates, the etheric limb follows suit and thus the pain ceases.
Having noted the relations of the four kingdoms to the Etheric Region of the Physical World, we will next turn our attention to their relation to the Desire World.
Here we find that both minerals and plants lack the separate Desire Body. They are permeated only by the planetary desire body, the Desire World. Lacking the separate vehicle, they are incapable of feeling, desire, and emotion, which are faculties pertaining to the Desire World.
When a stone is broken, it does not feel; but it would be wrong to infer that there is no feeling connected with such an action. That is the materialistic view, or the view taken by the uncomprehending multitude. The occult scientist knows that there is no act, great or small, which is not felt throughout the universe, and even though the stone, because it has no separate desire body, cannot feel, the Spirit of the Earth feels because it is Earth's desire body that permeates the stone. When a man cuts his finger, the finger, having no separate desire body, does not feel the pain, but the man does, because it is his desire body which permeates the finger. If a plant is torn up by the roots, it is felt by the Spirit of the Earth as a man would feel if a hair were torn from his head. This Earth is a living, feeling body, and all the forms which are without separate desire bodies through which their informing spirits may experience feeling, are included in the desire body of the Earth and that desire body has feeling. The breaking of a stone and the breaking off of flowers are productive of pleasure to the Earth, while the pulling out of plants by the root causes pain. The reason is given in the latter part of this work, for at this stage of our study the explanation would be incomprehensible to the general reader.
The planetary Desire World pulsates through the dense and vital bodies of animal and man in the same way that it penetrates the mineral and plant, but in addition to this, animal and man have separate desire bodies, which enable them to feel desire, emotion and passion. There is a difference, however. The desire body of the animal is built entirely of the material of the denser regions of the Desire World, while in the case of even the lowest of human races a little matter of the higher Regions enters into the composition of the desire body. The feelings of animals and the lowest human races are almost entirely concerned with the gratification of the lowest desires and passions which find their expression in the matter of the lower Regions of the Desire World. Hence, in order that they may have such emotions to educate them for something higher, it is necessary that they should have the corresponding materials in their desire bodies. As man progresses in the school of life, his experiences teach him, and his desires become purer and better. Thus by degrees the material of his desire body undergoes a corresponding change. The purer and brighter material of the higher Regions of the Desire World replaces the murky colors of the lower part. The desire body also grows in size, so that in a saint it is truly a glorious object to behold, the purity of its colors and its luminous transparency being beyond adequate simile. It must be seen to be appreciated.
At present the materials of both the lower and the higher Regions enter into the composition of the desire bodies of the great majority of mankind. None are so bad that they have not some good trait. This is expressed in the materials of the higher Regions which we find in their desire bodies. But, on the other hand, very, very few are so good that they do not use some of the materials of the lower Regions.
In the same way that the planetary vital and desire bodies interpenetrate the dense material of the Earth, as we saw in the illustration of the sponge, the sand and the water, so the vital and desire bodies interpenetrate the dense body of plant, animal, and man. But during the life of man his desire body is not shaped like his dense and vital bodies. After death it assumes that shape. During life it has the appearance of a luminous ovoid which, in waking hours, completely surrounds the dense body, as the albumen does the yolk of an egg. It extends from twelve to sixteen inches beyond the dense body. In this desire body there are a number of sense centers, but, in the great majority of people, they are latent. It is the awakening of these centers of perception that corresponds to the opening of the blind man's eyes in our former illustration. The matter in the human desire body is in incessant motion of inconceivable rapidity. There is in it no settled place for any particle, as in the dense body. The matter that is at the head one moment may be at the feet in the next and back again. There are no organs in the desire body, as in the dense and vital bodies, but there are centers of perception, which, when active, appear as vortices, always remaining in the same relative position to the dense body, most of them about the head. In the majority of people they are mere eddies and are of no use as centers of perception. They may be awakened in all, however, but different methods produce different results.
In the involuntary clairvoyant developed along improper, negative lines, these vortices turn from right to left, or in the opposite direction to the hands of a clock — counterclockwise.
In the desire body of the properly trained voluntary clairvoyant, they turn in the same direction as the hands of a clock — clockwise, glowing with exceeding splendor, far surpassing the brilliant luminosity of the ordinary desire body. These centers furnish him with means for the perception of things in the Desire World and he sees, and investigates as he wills, while the person whose centers turn counter-clockwise is like a mirror, which reflects what passes before it. Such a person is incapable of reaching out for information. The reason for this belongs to a later chapter, but the above is one of the fundamental differences between a medium and a properly trained clairvoyant. It is impossible for most people to distinguish between the two; yet there is one infallible rule that can be followed by anyone: No genuinely developed seer will ever exercise this faculty for money or its equivalent; nor will he use it to gratify curiosity; but only to help humanity.
No one capable of teaching the proper method for the development of this faculty will ever charge so much a lesson. Those demanding money for the exercise of, or for giving lessons in these things never have anything worth paying for. The above rule is a safe and sure guide, which all may follow with absolute confidence.
In a far distant future man's desire body will become as definitely organized as are the vital and dense bodies. When that stage is reached we shall all have the power to function in the desire body as we do know in the dense body, which is the oldest and best organized of these bodies of man — the desire body being the youngest.
The desire body is rooted in the liver, as the vital body is in the spleen.
In all warm-blooded creatures, which are the highest evolved, and have feelings, passions and emotions, which reach outward into the world with desire, which may be said to really live in the fuller meaning of the term and not merely vegetate — in all such creatures the currents of the desire body flow outward from the liver. The Desire-stuff is continually welling out in streams or currents which travel in curved lines to every point of the periphery of the ovoid and then return to the liver through a number of vortices, much as boiling water is continually welling outward from the source of heat and returning to it after completing its cycle.
The plants are devoid of this impelling, energizing principle, hence they cannot show life and motion as can the more highly developed organisms.
Where there is vitality and motion, but no red blood, there is no separate desire body. The creature is simply in the transition stage from plant to animal and therefore it moves entirely in the strength of the Group-Spirit.
In the cold-blooded animals which have a liver and red blood, there is a separate desire body and the group-spirit directs the currents inward, because in their case the separate spirit (of the individual fish or reptile for instance) is entirely outside the dense vehicle.
When the organism has evolved so far that the separate spirit can commence to draw into its vehicles then it (the individual spirit) commences to direct the currents outward, and we see the beginning of passionate existence and warm blood. It is the warm, red blood in the liver of the organism sufficiently evolved to have an Indwelling spirit which energizes the outgoing currents of desire-stuff that cause the animal or the man to display desire and passion. In the case of the animal the spirit is not yet entirely indwelling. It does not become so until the points in the vital body and the dense body come into correspondence, as explained in Chapter XII. » For this reason the animal is not a "liver," that is, he does not live as completely as does man, not being capable of as fine desires and emotions, because not as fully conscious. The mammalia of today are on a higher plane than was man at the animal stage of his evolution, because they have warm, red blood, which man did not have at that stage. This difference in status is accounted for by the spiral path of evolution, which also accounts for the fact that man is a higher type of humanity than the present Angels were in their human stage. The present mammalia, which have in their animal stage attained to the possession of warm, red blood, and are therefore capable of experiencing desire and emotion to some extent will, in the Jupiter Period, be a purer and better type of humanity than we are now, while from among our present humanity there will be some, even in the Jupiter Period, who will be openly and avowedly wicked. Moreover, they will not then be able to conceal their passions as is now possible, but will be unabashed about their evil doing.
In the light of this exposition of the connection between the liver and the life of the organism, it is noteworthy that in several European languages (English, German, and the Scandinavian tongues) the same word signifies the organ of the body (the liver) and also "one who lives."
When we turn our attention to the four kingdoms in their relation to the World of Thought we find that minerals, plants and animals lack a vehicle correlating them to that World. Yet we know some animals think, but they are the highest domesticated animals which have come into close touch with man for generations and have thus developed a faculty not possessed by other animals, which have not had that advantage. This is on the same principle that a highly wire will "induce" a weaker current of electricity in a wire brought close to it; or that a man of strong morals will arouse a like tendency in a weaker nature, while one morally weak will be overthrown if brought within the influence of evil characters. All we do, say, or are, reflects itself in our surroundings. This is why the highest domestic animals think. They are the highest of their kind, almost on the point of individualization, and man's thought vibrations have "induced" in them a similar activity of a lower order. With the exceptions noted, the animal kingdom has not acquired the faculty of thought. The are not individualized. This is the great and cardinal difference between the human and other kingdoms. Man is an individual. The animals, plants and minerals are divided into species. They are not individualized in the same sense than man is.
It is true that we divide mankind into races, tribes and nations; we note the difference between the Caucasian, the Negro, the Indian, etc.; but that is not to the point. If we wish to study the characteristics of the lion or the elephant or any other species of the lower animals, all that is necessary is to take any member of that species for that purpose. When we learn the characteristics of one animal, we know the characteristics of the species to which it belongs. All members of the same animal tribe are alike. That is the point. A lion, or its father, or its son, all look alike; there is no difference in the way they will act under like conditions. All have the same likes and dislikes; one is the same as another.
Not so with human beings. If we want to know about the characteristics of Negroes, it is not enough that we examine one single individual. It would be necessary to examine each individually, and even then we will arrive at no knowledge concerning Negroes as a whole, simply because that which was a characteristic of the single individual does not apply to the race collectively.
If we desire to know the character of Abraham Lincoln it will avail us nothing to study his father, his grandfather, or his son, for they would differ entirely. Each would have his own peculiarities quite distinct from the idiosyncrasies of Abraham Lincoln.
On the other hand, minerals, plants, and animals are described if we devote our attention to the description of one of each species; while there are as many species among human beings as there are individuals. Each individual person is a "species," a law unto himself, altogether separate and apart from any other individual, as different from his fellow men as one species in the lower kingdom is from another. We may write the biography of a man, but an animal can have no biography. This is because there is in each man an individual, indwelling spirit which dictates the thoughts and actions of each individual human being; while there is one "group-spirit" common to all the different animals or plants of the same species. The group-spirit works on the all from the outside. The tiger which roams in the wilds of the Indian jungle and the tiger penned up in the cage of a menagerie are both expressions of the same group-spirit. It influences both alike from the Desire World, distance being almost annihilated in the inner Worlds.
The group-spirits of the three lower kingdoms are variously located in the higher Worlds, as we shall see when we investigate the consciousness of the different kingdoms; but to properly comprehend the positions of these group-spirits in the inner Worlds it is necessary to remember and to clearly understand what has been said about all the forms that are in the visible world having crystallized from models and ideas in the inner Worlds, as illustrated by the architect's house and the inventor's machine. As the juices of the soft body of the snail crystallize into the hard shell which it carries upon its back, so the Spirits in the higher Worlds have, in a similar manner, crystallized out from themselves the dense, material bodies of the different kingdoms.
Thus the so-called "higher" bodies, although so fine and cloudy as to be invisible, are not by any means "emanations" from the dense body, but the dense vehicles of all kingdoms correspond to the shell of the snail, which is crystallized from its juices, the snail representing the spirit; and the juices of its body in their progress towards crystallization representing the mind, desire body and vital body. These various vehicles were emanated by the spirit from itself for the purpose of gaining experience through them. It is the spirit that moves the dense body where it will, as the snail moves its house, and not the body that controls the movements of the spirit. The more closely the spirit is able to enter into touch with its vehicle the better can it control and express itself through that vehicle, and vice versa. That is the key to the different states of consciousness in the different kingdoms. A study of diagrams 3 and 4 below, should give a clear understanding of the vehicles of each kingdom, the manner in which they are correlated to the different Worlds and the resulting state of consciousness.
From diagram 3 » we learn that the separate Ego is definitely segregated within the Universal Spirit in the Region of Abstract Thought. It shows that only man possesses the complete chain of vehicles correlating him to all divisions of the three Worlds. The animal lacks one link of chain — the mind; the plant lacks two links; the mind and the desire body; and the mineral lacks three links of the chain of the vehicles necessary to function in a self-conscious manner in the Physical World-the mind, the desire and the vital bodies.
The reason for the various deficiencies is that the Mineral Kingdom is the expression of the latest stream of evolving life; the Plant Kingdom is ensouled by a life wave that has been longer upon the path of evolution; the life wave of the animal kingdom has a still longer past; while Man, that is to say, the life now expressing itself in the human form, has behind it the longest journey of all the four kingdoms, and therefore leads. In time, the three life-waves which now animate the three lower kingdoms will reach the human, and we shall have passed to higher stages of development.
To understand the degree of consciousness which results from the possession of the vehicles used by the life evolving in the four kingdoms, we turn our attention to diagram 4, which shows that man, the Ego, the Thinker, has descended into the Chemical Region of the Physical World. Here he has marshaled all his vehicles, thereby attaining the state of waking consciousness. He is learning to control his vehicles. The organs of neither the desire body nor the mind are yet evolved. The latter is not yet even a body. At present it is simply a link, a sheath for the use of the Ego as a focusing point. It is the last of the vehicles that have been built. The spirit works gradually from finer into coarser substance, the vehicles also being built in finer substance first, then in coarser and coarser substance. The dense body was built first and has now come into its fourth stage of density; the vital body is in its third stage and the desire body in its second, hence it is still cloud-like, and the sheath of mind is filmier still. As those vehicles have not, as yet, evolved any organs, it is clear that they alone would be useless as vehicles of consciousness. The Ego, however, enters into the dense body and connects these organless vehicles with the physical sense centers and thus attains the waking state of consciousness in the Physical World.
The student should particularly note that it is because of their connection with the splendidly organized mechanism of the dense body that these higher vehicles become of value at present. He will thus avoid a mistake frequently made by people who, when they come into the knowledge that there are higher bodies, grow to despise the dense vehicle; to speak of it as "low" and "vile"—turning their eyes to heaven and wishing that they might soon be able to leave this earthly lump of clay and fly about in their "higher vehicles."
These people generally do not realize the difference between "higher" and "perfect." Certainly, the dense body is the lowest vehicle in the sense that it is the most unwieldy, correlating man to the world of sense with all the limitations thus implied. As stated, it has an enormous period of evolution back of it; is in its fourth state of development and has now reached a great and marvelous degree of efficiency. It will, in time, reach perfection, but even at present it is the best organized of man's vehicles. The vital body is in its third stage of evolution, and less completely organized than the dense body. The desire body and the mind are, as yet, mere clouds — almost entirely unorganized. In the very lowest human beings these vehicles are not even definite ovoids; they are more or less undefined in form.
The dense body is a wonderfully constructed instrument and should be recognized as such by everyone pretending to have any knowledge of the constitution of man. Observe the femur, for instance. This bone carries the entire weight of the body. On the outside it is built of a thin layer of compact bone, strengthened on the inside by beams and cross-beams of cancellated bone, in such a marvelous manner that the most skilled bridge or construction engineer could never accomplish the feat of building a pillar of equal strength with so little weight. The bones of the skull are built in a similar manner, always the least possible material is used and the maximum of strength obtained. Consider the wisdom manifested in the construction of the heart and then question if this superb mechanism deserves to be despised. The wise man is grateful for his dense body and takes the best possible care of it, because he knows that it is the most valuable of his present instruments.
The animal spirit has in its descent reached only the Desire World. It has not yet evolved to the point where it can "enter" a dense body. Therefore the animal has no individual indwelling spirit, but a group-spirit, which directs it from without. The animal has the dense body, the vital body and the desire body, but the group-spirit which directs it is outside. The vital body and the desire body of an animal are not entirely within the dense body, especially where the head is concerned. For instance, the etheric head of a horse projects far beyond and above the dense physical head. When, as in rare cases it happens, the etheric head of a horse draws into the head of the dense body, that horse can learn to read, count and work examples in elementary arithmetic. To this peculiarity is also due the fact that horses, dogs, cats and other domesticated animals sense the Desire World, though not always realizing the difference between it and the Physical World. A horse will shy at the sight of a figure invisible to the driver; a cat will go through the motions of rubbing itself against invisible legs. The cat sees the ghost, however without realizing that it has no dense legs available for frictional purposes. The dog, wiser than a cat or horse, will often sense that there is something he does not understand about the appearance of a dead master whose hands it cannot lick. It will howl mournfully and slink into a corner with its tail between its legs. The following illustration may perhaps be of service to show the difference between the man with his indwelling spirit and the animal with its group-spirit.
Let us imagine a room divided by means of a curtain, one side of the curtain representing the Desire World and the other the Physical. There are two men in the room, one in each division; they cannot see each other, nor can they get into the same division. There are, however, ten holes in the curtain and the man who is in the division representing the Desire World can put his ten fingers through these holes into the other division, representing the Physical World. He now furnishes an excellent representation of the group-spirit which is in the Desire World. The fingers represent the animals belonging to one species. He is able to move them as he wills, but he cannot use them freely nor as intelligently as the man who is walking about in the Physical division uses his body. The latter sees the fingers which are thrust through the curtain and he observes that they all move, but he does not see the connection between them. To him it appears as if they were all separate and distinct from one another. He cannot see that they are fingers of the man behind the veil and are governed in their movements by his intelligence. If he hurts one of the fingers, it is not only the finger that he hurts, but chiefly the man on the other side of the curtain. If an animal is hurt, it suffers, but not to the degree that the group-spirit does. The finger has no individualized consciousness; it moves as the man dictates — so do the animals move as the group-spirit dictates. We hear of "animal instinct" and "blind instinct." There is no such vague, indefinite thing as "blind" instinct. There is nothing "blind" about the way the group-spirit guides its members — there is Wisdom, spelled with capitals. The trained clairvoyant, when functioning in the Desire World, can communicate with these spirits of the animal species and finds them much more intelligent than a large percent of human beings. He can see the marvelous insight they display in marshaling the animals which are their physical bodies.
It is the spirit of the group which gathers its flocks of birds in the fall and compels them to migrate to the south, neither too early nor too late to escape the winter's chilly blast; that directs their return in the spring, causing them to fly at just the proper altitude, which differs for the different species.
The group-spirit of the beaver teaches it to build its dam across a stream at exactly the proper angle. It considers the rapidity of the flow, and all the circumstances, precisely as a skilled engineer would do, showing that it is as up-to-date in every particular of the craft as the college-bred, technically-educated man. It is the wisdom of the group-spirit that directs the building of the hexagon cell of the bee with such geometrical nicety; that teaches the snail to fashion its house in an accurate, beautiful spiral; that teaches the ocean mollusk the art of decorating its iridescent shell. Wisdom, wisdom everywhere! So grand, so great that one who looks with an observant eye is filled with amazement and reverence.
At this point the thought will naturally occur that if the animal group-spirit is so wise, considering the short period of evolution of the animal as compared with that of man, why does not the latter display wisdom to a much greater degree and why must man be taught to build dams and geometrize, all of which the group-spirit does without being taught?
The answer to that question has to do with the descent of the Universal Spirit into matter of ever-increasing density. In the higher Worlds, where its vehicles are fewer and finer, it is in closer touch with cosmic wisdom which shines out in a manner inconceivable in the dense Physical World, but as the spirit descends, the light of wisdom becomes temporarily more and more dimmed, until in the densest of all the Worlds, it is held almost entirely in abeyance.
An illustration will make this clearer. The hand is man's most valuable servant; its dexterity enables it to respond to his slightest bidding. In some vocations, such as bank teller, the delicate touch of the hand becomes so sensitive, that it is able to distinguish a counterfeit coin from a genuine in a way so marvelous that one would almost think the hand were endowed with individual intelligence.
Its greatest efficiency is perhaps reached in the production of music. It is capable of producing the most beautiful, soul-stirring melodies. The delicate, caressing touch of the hand elicits the tenderest strains of soul-speech from the instrument, telling of the sorrows, the joys, the hopes, the fears and the longings of the soul in a way that nothing but music can do. It is the language of the heaven world, the spirit's true home, and comes to the divine spark imprisoned in flesh as a message from its native land. Music appeals to all, regardless of race, creed, or other worldly distinction. The higher and more spiritual the individual the plainer does it speak to him and even "the savage breast" is not unmoved by it.
Let us now imagine a master musician putting on thin gloves and trying to play his violin. We note at once that the delicate touch is less subtle; the soul of the music is gone. If he puts another and a heavier pair of gloves over the first pair, his hand is hampered to such an extent that he may occasionally create a discord instead of the former harmony. Should he at last put on, in addition to the two pairs of gloves already hampering him, a pair of still heavier mittens, he would, temporarily, be entirely unable to play, and one who had not heard him play previously to the time he put on the gloves and the mittens, would naturally think that he had never been able to do so, especially if ignorant of the hampering of his hands.
So it is with the Spirit; every step down, every descent into coarser matter is to it what the putting on of a pair of gloves would be to the musician. Every step down limits its power of expression until it has become accustomed to the limitations and has found its focus, in the same way that the eye must find its focus after we enter a house on a bright summer day. The pupil of the eye contracts to its limit in the glare of the sun and on entering the house all seems dark; but, as the pupil expands, and admits the light, the man is enabled to see as well in the dimmer light of the house as he did in the sunlight.
The purpose of man's evolution here is to enable him to find his focus in the Physical World, where at present the light of wisdom seems obscured. But when in time we have "found the light," the wisdom of man will shine forth in his actions, and far surpass the wisdom expressed by the group-spirit of the animal.
Besides, a distinction must be made between the group-spirit and the Virgin Spirits of the life wave now expressing itself as animals. The group-spirit belongs to a different evolution and is the guardian of the animal spirits.
The dense body in which we function is composed of numerous cells, each having separate cell-consciousness, though of a very low order. While these cells form part of our body they are subjected to and dominated by our consciousness. An animal group-spirit functions in a spiritual body, which is its lowest vehicle. This vehicle consists of a varying number of Virgin Spirits imbued for the time being with the consciousness of the group-spirit. The latter directs the vehicles built by the Virgin Spirits in its charge, caring for them and helping them to evolve their vehicles. As its wards evolve, the group-spirit also evolves, undergoing a series of metamorphoses, in a manner similar to that in which we grow and gain experience by taking into our bodies the cells of the food we eat, thereby also raising their consciousness by enduing them with ours for a time.
Thus while a separate, self-conscious Ego is within each human body and dominates the actions of its particular vehicle, the spirit of the separate animal is not yet individualized and self-conscious, but forms part of the vehicle of a self-conscious entity belonging to a different evolution — the group-spirit.
The group-spirit dominates the actions of the animals in harmony with cosmic law, until the Virgin Spirits in its charge shall have gained self-consciousness and become human. Then they will gradually manifest wills of their own, gaining more and more freedom from the group-spirit and becoming responsible for their own actions. The group-spirit will influence them, however (although in a decreasing degree), as race, tribe, community, or family spirit until each individual has become capable of acting in full harmony with cosmic law. Not until that time will the Ego be entirely free and independent of the group-spirit, which will then enter a higher phase of evolution.
The position occupied by the group-spirit in the Desire World gives to the animal a consciousness different form that of man, who has a clear, definite waking consciousness. Man sees things outside of himself in sharp, distinct outlines. Owing to the spiral path of evolution, the higher domestic animals, particularly the dog, horse, cat and elephant see objects in somewhat the same way, though perhaps not so clearly defined. All other animals have an internal "picture consciousness" similar to the dream-state in man. When such an animal is confronted by an object, a picture is immediately perceived within, accompanied by a strong impression that the object is inimical or beneficial to its welfare. If the feeling is one of fear, it is associated with a suggestion from the group-spirit how to escape the threatened danger. This negative state of consciousness renders it easy for the group-spirit to guide the dense bodies of its charges by suggestion, as the animals have no will of their own.
Man is not so easily managed from without, either with or without his consent. As evolution progresses and man's will develops more and more, he will become non-amenable to outside suggestion and free to do as he pleases regardless of suggestions from others. This is the chief difference between man and the other kingdoms. They act according to law and the dictates of the group-spirit (which we call instinct), while man is becoming more and more a law unto himself. We do not ask the mineral whether or not it will crystallize, nor the flower whether it will or will not bloom, nor the lion whether it will or will not cease to prey. They are all, in the smallest as in the greatest matter, under the absolute domination of the group-spirit, being without free will and initiative which, in some degree, are possessed by every human being. All animals of the same species look nearly alike, because they emanate from the same group-spirit, while among the fifteen hundred millions of human beings who people the Earth no two look exactly alike, not even twins when adolescent, because the stamp that is put upon each by the indwelling individual Ego makes the difference in appearance as well as in character.
That all oxen thrive on grass, and all lions eat flesh, while "one man's meat is another man's poison" is another illustration of the all-inclusive influence of the group-spirit as contrasted with the Ego which makes each human being require a different proportion of food from every other. Doctors note with perplexity the same peculiarity in administering medicine. Its acts differently upon different individuals, while the same medicine will produce identical effects on two animals of the same species, owing to the fact that animals all follow the dictates of the group-spirit and Cosmic Law — always act similarly in identical circumstances. Man alone is, in some measure, able to follow his own desires within certain limits. That his mistakes are many and grievous, is granted, and to many it might seem better if he were forced into the right way, but if this were done, he would never learn to do right. Lessons of discrimination between good and evil cannot be learned unless he is free to choose his own course and has learned to eschew the wrong as a veritable "womb of pain." If he did right only because he had no choice, and had no chance to do otherwise, he would be but an automaton and not an evolving God. As the builder learns by his mistakes, correcting past errors in future buildings, so man, by means of his blunders, and the pain they cause him, is attaining to a higher (because self-conscious) wisdom than the animal, which acts wisely because it is impelled to action by the group-spirit. In time the animal will become human, have liberty of choice and will make mistakes and learn by them as we do now.
Diagram 4 » shows that the group-spirit of the plant kingdom has its lowest vehicle in the Region of Concrete Thought. It is two steps removed from its dense vehicle and consequently the plants have a consciousness corresponding to that of dreamless sleep. The group-spirit of the mineral has it slowest vehicle in the Region of Abstract Thought and it is, therefore, three steps removed from its dense vehicle; hence it is in a state of deep unconsciousness similar to the trance condition.
We have now shown that man is an individual indwelling spirit, an Ego separate from all other entities, directing and working in one set of vehicles from within, and that plants and animals are directed from without by a group-spirit having jurisdiction over a number of animals or plants in our Physical World. They are separate only in appearance.
The relations of plant, animal and man to the life currents in the Earth's atmosphere are symbolically represented by the cross. The Mineral Kingdom is not represented, because as we have seen, it possesses no individual vital body, hence cannot be the vehicle for currents belonging to the higher realms. Plato, who was an Initiate, often gave occult truths. He said "The World-Soul is crucified."
The lower limb of the cross indicates the plant with its root in the chemical mineral soil. The group-spirits of plants are at the center of the Earth. They are (it will be remembered) in the Region of Concrete Thought, which interpenetrates the Earth, as do all the other Worlds. From these group-spirits flow streams or currents in all directions to the periphery of the Earth, passing outward through the length of plant or tree.
Man is represented by the upper limb; his is the inverted plant. The plant takes its food through the root. Man takes his food through the head. The plant stretches its generative organs towards the sun. Man, the inverted plant, turns his towards the center of the earth. The plant is sustained by the spiritual currents of the group-spirit in the center of the earth, which enter into it by way of the root. Later it will be shown that the highest spiritual influence comes to man from the sun, which sends its rays through man, the inverted plant, from the head downwards. The plant inhales the poisonous carbon-dioxide exhaled by man and exhales the life-giving oxygen used by him.
The animal, which is symbolized by the horizontal limb of the cross, is between the plant and the man. Its spine is in a horizontal position and through it play the currents of the animal group-spirit which encircle the Earth. No animal can be made to remain constantly upright, because in that case the currents of the group-spirit could not guide it, and if it were not sufficiently individualized to endure the spiritual currents which enter the vertical human spine, it would die. It is necessary that a vehicle for the expression of an individual Ego shall have three things — an upright walk, that it may come into touch with the currents just mentioned; an upright larynx, for only such a larynx is capable of speech (parrots and starlings are examples of this effect of the upright larynx); and, owing to the solar currents, it must have warm blood. The latter is of the utmost importance to the Ego, which will be logically explained and illustrated later. These requisites are simply mentioned here as the last words on the status of the four kingdoms in relation to each other and to the Worlds.
The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception,
by Max Heindel